Friday, October 29, 2021

TN bill would require school board members to run based on political party affiliation.

by Rod Williams - One of the bills advancing in the State legislature that is likely to pass is a bill that would make school board elections partisan.  Currently, school boards are non-partisan. 

I understand the impetus for this.  Despite Tennessee being a conservative and Republican state, things like critical race theory and transexual propaganda work themselves into the curriculum. If candidates for the school board run on party labels, it is assumed, you will know what you are getting when you vote for a school board member and the schools will more closely represent the values of the electorate who funds them. Republicans are more likely to oppose those things we do not want to be taught in schools than are Democrats.  Also, Republicans are less indebted to the teachers union and can be more objective about things like fiscal responsibility and school choice than can Democrats beholding to unions. 

I have mixed feelings about this.  Voting as a Republican, already means I have no voice in choosing the county constitutional officers and judges.  Sometimes, if there is no Republican primary or the Republican primary is not really competitive, I do vote as a Democrat.  In Tennessee, we do not have party registration so this is legal. To have a voice, I would rather not have to vote as a Democrat.  Thankfully our Council and School Board and mayor's races are non-partisan and I can vote in those important elections without pretending to be a Democrat.

In recent years the voters of Nashville have become so progressive that we elect progressive school board members who routinely vote for liberal social policy in the schools, oppose school choice, and engage in wildly wasteful spending.  With partisan elections, it will only get worse. Sometimes at least one of the nine school board members may be someone who is mildly centrist and rational.  With partisan elections, we will not get even that. Current at-large Councilman Stever Glover was a member of the school board prior to being elected to the metro council.  He could win that seat in a non-partisan election.  It is doubtful he could have won that seat running as a Republican. 

Nashville's electorate is so far to the left, that perhaps it doesn't matter anyway.  We are going to elect progressives no matter what.  The occasional rational school board member can not impact the direction of our schools. I wish we elected good people with a business sense to serve on the board and political affiliation did not matter.   However in today's culture, unless one is a woke, politically correct, social justice warrior one can not get elected in Davidson County. Having the progressive view on race and transgender policy is more important than being able to read a balance sheet. 

While I have reservations about this bill, I tend to think it is a positive development and reluctantly support it. I just wish it wasn't necessary. 

To read the bill see HB 9072/SB 9009. For other reports on this issue from other sources see link, link, and link. 

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